KEY POINTS

  • Pompeo will conduct a probe into claims Ambassador Yovanovitch was spied on
  • The allegations stem from new evidence provided by Lev Parnas
  • Ukraine announced its own investigation into the claims on Thursday
  • Pompeo said he expects his department to find the claims are "ultimately" wrong

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would open an investigation into the allegation that the former ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch, was put under surveillance, a day after Ukraine said it would investigate the charge.

Though Ukraine's offer of investigation spurred the Trump administration into a half-hearted acknowledgment of the charges made by House Democrats on Wednesday, Pompeo said he doesn't expect much to come of the investigation.

In an interview with CNN, Pompeo claimed that “until this story broke, I had, to the best of my recollection, had never heard of this at all.”

Speaking with Tony Katz, a conservative radio host, Pompeo said: “I suspect that much of what's been reported will ultimately prove wrong.... My obligation as secretary of state, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate.”

Earlier this week, House Democrats released a collection of documents connected to Lev Parnas, including a text message exchange between Parnas and a man named Robert Hyde. Hyde claimed to have Yovanovitch under surveillance in Kiev at the time, and though the messages are not explicit, it is possible the ambassador was in harm’s way, with Hyde messaging, “they are willing to help [with Yovanovitch] if we/you would like a price” to Parnas.

Parnas, an associate of Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is under federal indictment for funneling foreign money to influence U.S. foreign policy. He has released a great deal of crucial evidence regarding the Trump administration’s questionable dealings with Ukraine. Parnas has also appeared in a number of interviews, in which he asserts Trump and everyone in his administration was fully aware of the numerous ways Ukraine was being prodded into investigating Hunter Biden.

With Parnas’ allegations dominating news headlines this week, President Trump was questioned about his connection to him. So far, Trump has roundly denied having ever had contact with Parnas, despite the emergence of several photographs and videos showing the two men together.

In Pompeo’s recent interview with Katz, he made a similar assertion about Parnas. “I've never encountered, never communicated with him,” Pompeo said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran would make "a big mistake" if it retaliated against American forces US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran would make "a big mistake" if it retaliated against American forces Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB